House, Senate OK Colorado River drought plan, capping years of debate

House, Senate OK Colorado River drought plan, capping years of debate

WASHINGTON – Two weeks after water officials told Congress there was urgent need to approve the Colorado River drought contingency plan, the House and Senate both passed a plan Monday and sent it to the president’s desk.

If signed by President Donald Trump as expected, it would be the culmination of years of negotiations between the seven states in the Colorado River Basin on how much each state can draw from the river if Lake Powell and Lake Mead drop to crisis levels. Read more

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UN Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018

According to the United Nations: “The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 found that conflict and climate change were major contributing factors leading to growing numbers of people facing hunger and forced displacement, as well as curtailing progress towards universal access to basic water and sanitation services.” Read the report.

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Global Water Scarcity

We live on a planet covered by water (9.25 million trillion gallons), but more than 97 percent is salty, and nearly 2 percent is locked up in snow and ice.iThat leaves only a fraction of one percent of the earth’s total water supply to grow our crops, provide for industrial use, and supply drinking water. Unfortunately, these available water reserves are already strained – surface supplies are shrinking and groundwater is being depleted faster than it can be replenished. It is estimated that by 2025 almost two billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity and two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed regions. By 2050, one in 5 developing countries are expected to face water shortages.

At present, about 4.5 billion people live within an impaired water resource, 780 million people live without clean drinking water, and more than one-third of Africa’s population and 25 to 33 percent of China’s population lack access to safe drinking water.ii

Thirty-three countries depend upon other nations for a majority of their renewable water while only nine countries account for 60 percent of the world’s natural freshwater.iiiOne hundred and twenty river systems in the world flow through two or more countries. Almost two-thirds of the world’s countries have rivers flowing into their territories from upstream countries and there are 276 transboundary river basins. Seven countries share the Amazon river basin in Southern America region; eight countries share the Mekong river basin in the Southern and Eastern Asia region; eleven countries share the Nile river basin in Africa; and nineteen countries share the Danube river basin in Europe.iv

Currently, approximately 9 percent of countries experience absolute water scarcity, 6 percent experience water scarcity, and 10 percent are under water stress.vEighty nations now have serious water problems that are expected to become severe within twenty years.

Drought affects more people than any other type of natural disaster. Although droughts are not new, their increasing frequency and severity throughout the world in recent decades has heightened impacts resulting in massive famines and migration, conflicts and unrest, and food shortages and price increases. Since these shifts in population and resources are global concerns, we will need to approach drought in new, inventive

In the world’s driest places, fossil water is becoming as valuable as fossil fuel. This ancient freshwater was created eons ago and trapped underground in huge reservoirs, or aquifers. And like oil, no one knows how much there is.

More than two billion people worldwide rely on wells for their water. As water tables continue to drop, many of them devote countless hours to collecting and hauling this valuable resource.viiBringing fossil water to the surface may cause other water quality issues. When aquifers are depleted, they can be subject to an influx of surrounding contaminants such as saltwater—a particular problem near coastal areas.

Also, like oil fields, depleting fossil water aquifers too quickly can reduce underground pressures and render large quantities of water essentially irretrievable.viiiGroundwater in aquifers between layers of poorly permeable rock, such as clay or shale, may be confined under pressure. If such a confined aquifer is tapped by a well, water will rise above the top of the aquifer and may even flow from the well onto the land surface. Water confined in this way is said to be under artesian pressure, and the aquifer is called an artesian aquifer. There is no problem if the water is withdrawn slowly, but human population has exploded threefold and water use has risen even faster. Of the 37 underground aquifers measured, one third was seriously stressed, with little or almost no natural replenishment.

Technological advances are helping scientists get a handle on just how much water can be found in a given locale. For instance, the European Space Agency’s AQUIFER project uses satellite imagery to estimate water resources from space and help aid trans border management, according to geophysicist Stefan Saradeth. In Northern India, scientists used NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) to measure aquifer usage. When underground reservoir levels change, they slightly alter Earth’s gravitational field—just enough to be detected by GRACE satellites 300 miles (480 kilometers) above the surface. That data is used to map water use. In northern India, they produced a disturbing picture. The NASA study found that humans are using more water than rains can replenish, and area groundwater levels declined by an average of one foot (30 centimeters) per year between 2002 and 2008.ix

Although fossil water can currently fill critical needs, experts warn, it’s ultimately just a temporary measure until conservation measures and advanced technologies become the status quo. Ensuring adequate food and water for all and achieving sustainable rural development and livelihoods for current and future generations all hinge upon the responsible management of our natural resources.


Underground “Fossil Water” Running Out published by National Geographic May 8, 2010

ii Glogal Majority Water Shortages ‘within two generations’ published by May 24, 2013; The Coming Global Water Crisis published by May 9, 2012; and Photogallery 0,29307,1724375_1552669,00 published by

iii Review of World Water Resources by Country published by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

iv Did you know published by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Water aqua stat infographics published by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Paving the way for National Drought Policies published by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

vii Time Magazine photogallergy 0,29307,1724375_1552667,00

viii Underground “Fossil Water” Running Out published by National Geographic May 8, 2010

Water Wars Threaten America’s Most Endangered Rivers published by National Geographic April 12, 2016

Photo courtesy of dreamstime_xxl_82956819 creativecommonsstockphotos

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EWG’s Tap Water Database

According to the Environmental Working Group’s drinking water quality analysis of 30 million state water records, water utilities’ testing has found pollutants in America’s tap water. EWG’s database shows results of tests conducted by the water utility, as well as information from the U.S. EPA Enforcement and Compliance History database (ECHO).

Enter your zip code at EWG’s database to find out whether your water is in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards.

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The Global Water Crisis | How Much Water Do We Really Use Everyday?

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Clean Water for Puerto Rico

Clean Water for Puerto Rico

With multiple locations and organizations across the country, Earth Water Alliance is securing Clean Water for Puerto Rico by providing water filters for individuals, families, and communities in dire need of clean, safe drinking water.

We’ve teamed up with major water filter companies – Sawyer and LifeStraw – to provide critically needed water filters.

With boots on the ground, we are so pleased to see our alliances making a difference in providing clean water to so many people throughout Puerto Rico.

Earth Water Alliance is also providing seeds to save bees and restore food and vegetation destroyed by the hurricanes.

Join us in supporting Earth Water Alliance’s

Clean Water for Puerto Rico

To support our commitment to Puerto Rico, donate to on our secure PayPal account.

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Before the Flood, a National Geographic Channel documentary

Before the Flood – Leonardo DiCaprio and National Geographic explore climate change.

“Before the Flood, directed by Fisher Stevens, captures a three-year personal journey alongside Academy Award-winning actor and United Nations’ Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio as he interviews individuals from every facet of society in both developing and developed nations who provide unique, impassioned and pragmatic views on what must be done today and in the future to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet.” (National Geographic, publication date: 2016 10-30)

License: Standard YouTube License

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Navajo Nation Water Shortage

The Navajo Nation comprises a total land area of 27,425 square miles, spanning parts of three states (Arizona, New Mexico and Utah). This area is roughly equivalent to the state of West Virginia, and is larger than ten of the smallest states in the US. It has the largest area of any other tribal reservation in the country. Most of it is in one contiguous area with small isolated portions in New Mexico referred to as “the checkerboard”. Other tribes which surround the Navajo Nation include the Ute to the north, Jicailla Apache in the east, Hualapai to the west, and the Zuni and White Mountain Apache to the south. The contiguous Navajo lands completely surround the Hopi Indian Reservation. About 175,000 Navajo Nation members, plus a small minority of non-members, live within the borders of the Navajo Nation, and almost as many members live outside of that territory. All of the territory is in the Colorado Plateau with elevations that range from 5,000 feet to 11,000 feet. The Continental Divide goes through the New Mexico portion of the Navajo Nation. Much of the territory consists of arid desert, but also includes alpine forests, mountains, mesas and high plateaus.

The Navajo Nation began with a much smaller core granted to the Navajo people by the treaty of 1868, and has since increased in area through various additions. Its capital is in Window Rock, Arizona, established in the early 1930’s.

Membership in the Navajo Nation requires at least one quarter Navajo blood and currently numbers over 300,000 individuals. It is uncertain whether the Navajo or the Cherokee are the most populous tribe, but it is difficult to judge as the Cherokee define membership in different and less strict terms. There are no urban centers within the Navajo Nation and paved roads are in the minority. Most of the employed population make their living from small-scale farming and ranching, oil, or mining of uranium or coal. About 40 to 45% are unemployed and the number of those living in poverty is high as well. A portion of the population eek out a subsistence living with small farms and animal husbandry. The Navajo language is surviving relatively well with almost three quarters of Navajo members living on the reservation speaking it as their first language.

The EPA estimates that up to 30% of the Navajo population (approximately 54,000 people) are not served by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority’s public water systems. As a result, it is estimated that the Navajo are approximately 60 times more likely than other Americans to live without access to clean running water or a toilet. Primary reasons include:

  • Nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted from Navajo lands from 1944 to 1986. Today, the mines are closed, but a legacy of uranium contamination remains, including over 500 abandoned uranium mines.
  • Groundwater drinking sources have elevated levels of radiation, possibly due to dust from uranium abandoned mines and waste piles.
  • The groundwater is typically very deep and the cost of drilling is exorbitantly expensive due to the difficulty of getting drilling equipment into this remote location over rough roads and the risk of drilling into uranium veins.
  • Radioactive building materials leach into the soil and groundwater.
  • Many residences do not have electricity to pump water if a well was drilled.
  • Drilling a shared well is not always practical because the area is sparsely populated and there are great distances between houses.
  • There is too little rainfall to make on-going rainwater catchment practical.

Currently, many homes on the reservation are getting by on seven gallons of water a day. If you want to help fund water delivery to isolated residences on the Navajo reservation, we encourage you to designate “Navajo Water Project” when making your donation to Earth Water Alliance.

Together we can make a difference.

Sources: Environmental Protection Agency, wikipedia, various public domain documents, St. Bonaventure Indian School and Mission, and Navajo Population Profile 2010 U.S. Census (December 2013), Hearing before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on October 23, 2007 serial no. 110-97.

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St. Bonaventure site visit

Steve Herbert and Dreama Brower recently visited St. Bonaventure Indian School and Mission to verify the dowsed location for a well being drilled at Smith Lake. They also visited a family with an installed cistern system for improved water storage and provided an introduction to dowsing to staff at the mission.

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Meet the Millions of Americans Without Clean Running Water

Watch George McGraw’s TEDxNashville talk to learn 1) what it is like to be an American without access to water 2) what we should be doing to help resolve this problem and 3) what lessons we can learn from this issue

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Walking on Navajo Water

“Walking on Navajo Water” by Navajo Youth Media Productions is visually impactful and informative. There are approximately 200 families living on the Navajo Reservation without running water in their homes. These students have expressed their interest in finding resolutions and have documented their understanding and commitment to action. This is a very nice production. They know that Water is Sacred – Water is Life!  Walking on Navajo Water

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